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Spinal stenosis

  • Definition

    Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings (called neural foramina) where spinal nerves leave the spinal column.

    Alternative Names

    Pseudo-claudication; Central spinal stenosis; Foraminal spinal stenosis

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Spinal stenosis typically develops as a person ages and the disks become drier and start to shrink. At the same time, the bones and ligaments of the spine swell or grow larger due to arthritis or chronic inflammation.

    However, other problems, including infection and birth defects, can sometimes cause spinal stenosis.

    Spinal stenosis may be caused by:

    • Arthritis involving the spine, usually in middle-aged or elderly people
    • Herniated or slipped disk, which often occurred in the past
    • Injury that causes pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord itself
    • Defect in the spine that was present from birth (congenital defect)
    • Tumors in the spine
    • Bone diseases, such as Paget's disease of bone and achondroplasia